IASS academic submits written evidence to All Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia

Posted on Wednesday 31st October 2012

Chris Allen presenting at the 'Faith in the City' eventFurther to his role in the relaunch of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Islamophobia, IASS's Chris Allen this week submitted written evidence to the APPG in preparation for its meeting to explore the evidence relating to the representation of Muslims and Islam in the British media.

Held on Wednesday 24 October in the House of Commons, the meeting focused on the question, 'Do the media in Britain deliberately perpetrate an 'us-them' mentality between society and Muslims?' Drawing on research undertaken here at the University of Birmingham over the past decade, Chris provided the APPG with an 18 page document of relevant material.

Download 'A review of the evidence relating to the representation of Muslims and Islam in the British media - written evidence submitted to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia' (PDF)

Setting out a range of material, the headline findings showed that:

  • The role and impact of the media is 'contentious and debatable'.
  • 74% of the British public claim that they know 'nothing or next to nothing about Islam'.
  • 64% of the British public claim that what they do know is 'acquired through the media'.
  • Research from 2006 suggests that the press coverage relating to Muslims and Islam in British national newspapers had increased by approximately 270% over preceding decade.
  • 91% of that coverage was deemed negative.
  • 84% of press coverage represented Islam and Muslims either as 'likely to cause damage or danger' or as 'operating in a time of intense difficulty or danger'.
  • Research from 2008 once again confirmed that the press coverage of British Muslims had increased significantly since 2000, peaking in 2006, and remaining at high levels in 2007 and 2008.
  • 2008 was shown to be the first year in which the 'volume of stories about religious and cultural differences (32% of stories by 2008) overtook terrorism related stories (27% by 2008)'.

Research undertaken in 2007, highlighted how this type of ongoing media representation was:

  • Likely to provoke and increase feelings of insecurity, suspicion and anxiety amongst non-Muslims.
  • Likely to provoke feelings of insecurity, vulnerability and alienation amoungst Muslims, and in this way to weaken the Government's measures to reduce and prevent extremism.
  • Unlikely to help diminish levels of hate crime and acts of unlawful discrimination by non-Muslims against Muslims;
  • Likely to be a major barrier preventing the success of the Government's community cohesion policies and programmes;
  • Unlikely to contribute to informed discussion and debate amongst Muslims and non-Muslims about ways of working together to maintain and develop Britain as a multicultural, multi-faith democracy.

Further information

If you would like any further information, please contact Chris Allen, c.allen.2@bham.ac.uk.